The Alabama Supreme Court has overturned a $550,000.00 default judgment after finding that the trial court exceeded its discretion in denying a motion to set aside a default judgment. The case concerns a 2012 accident that occurred while a logging truck was backing into a residential driveway. A complaint filed after the accident went unanswered due to an oversight by the insurance carrier. Once the oversight was discovered, an answer was filed along with a motion to set aside the default judgment. The trial court never ruled on the motion; thus, it was denied “by operation of law” (i.e., the motion was denied automatically as soon as 90 days had passed from the date it was filed). In his filings with the trial court, Rob established that the defendant had valid defenses to the claims and that the failure to answer was simply a mistake. On appeal, the Alabama Supreme Court relied on these filings in finding that the default judgment should have been set aside so that the case could be properly litigated. Hilyer v. Fortier, No. 1140991 (January 6, 2017 Ala.). Of note, this was actually the second time the case was before the Supreme Court. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that a trial court cannot allow a properly-supported motion to set aside a default judgment to be denied by operation of law. Hilyer v. Fortier, 176 So. 3d 809 (Ala. 2015). Please contact Rob if you would like to discuss the Hilyer opinions or the procedure for setting aside default judgments in general.
Carr Allison is open for business. Our attorneys are available to guide and assist you with your legal needs and concerns.CARR ALLISON STATUS COVID-19 TEAM WORKERS’ COMP TEAM COVID-19 RESOURCES